At Actors’ Shakespeare Project, it is our practice as artists to listen: to listen to our audience, our peers, our colleagues, and the news. What we learn from this practice of listening serves us in creating a season that reflects the concerns of our community and our country. The plays we choose must resonate and connect with you at this time in your life, with your heart, mind, and body.
The 2017-18 Season includes Exit the King, Julius Caesar, and Richard III, a roster of plays that resonate with our times and highlight certain aspects of human nature that can be unsettling. These plays explore the theme “The Downfall of Despots.”
In each of these productions we will strive to examine what it means to face the crisis of dictatorship, the prospect of national ruin, and the ultimate destruction of the narcissistic ruler at the core of each story. Much Ado About Nothing takes us on a lighter-hearted journey of love, yet still explores how cunning and mischief can unravel reputations and relationships.
We hope we have listened well to your concerns about what it means to be human today in 2017. We have chosen this season for you so that we may collectively examine our shared humanity and current experience through the lens of Shakespeare and Ionesco. As a company of artists we look forward to making the exploration with you, in the hope that we may all become better people, artists and members of society.
Thanks for your interest and continued support of our work!
Maurice Emmanuel Parent & Paula Plum
Co-Acting Artistic Directors
Last night, we saw a broadcast of the RSC's Tempest -- finishing out Shakespeare's jubilee year (2016 was the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death) with Shakespeare's last solo-authored play.
They had a teaser for ROME, and I thought it was just the next play they were doing, so I thought, "Julius Caesar? Or Antony and Cleopatra?"
No, it's the whole next season -- Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Titus Andronicus, Coriolanus. I'm excited. I mean, I'm meh on the first 2 plays, but the RSC has done such amazing productions recently that I'm at least interested to see what they do (if nothing else, we'll get to see them make great use of their visual resources -- they have an amazing stage, and amazing amounts of money, so their productions honestly feel worth watching for that alone), and to see how they comment on our current political moment.
In talking about next season, Gregory Doran (Artistic Director of the RSC) was like, "In this post-Brexit, post-Trump," and he just kinda looked at the ground in sadness as he was talking. (In talking about Lear -- unwise breaking up of the kingdom -- IIRC he said that the Brexit vote happened the first day of rehearsals for the show.)
For their ROME season they're bringing back the director of Othello (I forget for which play, but I'm real excited about that -- they evoked Abu Ghraib in that one, so I look forward to any politically-engaged play under that director) and have a woman director for one of the plays (again, I forget which one, but good on you RSC, and take note Hollywood).
And it feels so Shakespearean to use stories about Italy to talk about England :) (Now I'm curious to see a table of how many Shakespeare plays are set in Italy [or elsewhere] vs. set in England -- esp if we exclude the histories. A quick Google suggests that 1/3 of all Shakespeare's plays are set in Italy. Folgerpedia has a nice sortable table -- which also allows a quick at-a-glance that almost the only plays he sets in England are the histories; the only exception/s being The Merry Wives of Windsor in Shakespeare's modern-day, and King Lear and Cymbeline in mythic pre-Christian Britain.)
Oh, and the latter 2 plays in their ROME season are so great -- Titus being always a trip, and Coriolanus being a lesser-known play I've seen some really great productions of.